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Opinions of Monday, 23 November 2009

Columnist: Kyei-Mensah-Osei, Kofi

Now Walk Your Talk, Mr President!!

On visiting some pro-Ghanaian websites as I’m wont to on 07.11.09, I came across a common headline running through the various sites which I found to be ridiculously ludicrous! The headline in question was: “Ghanaians Complain Too Much-President Mills”. When I first saw it on “modernghana.com”, my initial reaction was to ignore it. However, I on seeing the same headline on my subsequent visit to “Ghanaianjournal” and “Myjoyonline.com”, I decided to read to find out what it was all about and boy, wasn’t I surprised. The questions I asked myself after reading the piece was: Has the President been misquoted? Is he experiencing heebie-jeebies already?

Love gone sour

The “Ghanaians complain too much” headline which attracted my attention was alleged to have been made by President Mills when he addressed Muslims at the Kumasi Central Mosque on 06.11.09. The picture that came to my mind after reading the “Ghanaians complain too much” was a true story between a Nigerian (Jasper) and a British girl (Amanda) who work in my office. Jasper, the Nigerian wooed this British girl with flowers and every sweet word imaginable. Of course, a greater percentage of what Jasper had to say during the wooing period were bloody lies. A few months after winning her love though, Jasper knowing he couldn’t keep up with the various promises made to this girl started playing hanky-panky with the girl’s heart. Jasper’s performance took a nose-dive as well as his punctuality. When I enquired from Jasper the reasons his unusual lateness and floppiness at work, he confessed to me that he started an affair with Amanda and that “the girl has become too demanding.” I’m oblivious of the particular area in their lives my friend claimed the girl was being “too demanding”. Whether in bed or financially, readers can reach their own conclusions. He started to avoid this girl at all costs. Perhaps due to the pressure from this girl on Jasper, he requested for 3 months sabbatical leave in February this year to go to Nigeria which I dully obliged since he was due one anyway. Nine (9) months on and I’m still waiting for Jasper’s arrival; hence I’ve had to recruit someone to fill this position. I must admit that I do not know the full story between these 2 people but the underlying fact is that, theirs was love gone sour. They started off in whirlwind fashion but it turned sour in few months.

Similarities

The similarities between the President’s position and that of my former colleagues are pretty obvious for all to see. Like my friend Jasper, the president then candidate Mills made numerous promises, prominent among these promises was to reduce the price of petrol, to woo the Ghanaian electorates. If one takes away the promises the President made during the campaign period, the rest of his message were lachrymosely, yet it was able to hoodwink Ghanaians to vote for him. At some point, he was seen leading CJA demonstrations attacking policies of the then NPP administration. On another platform, the then candidate Mills had this to say; “I heard President JA Kuffuor asking Ghanaians to exercise patience in 2002. I want to ask the President that when he was making his promises why did he not tell Ghanaians that it will take him 10 years to fulfil those promises?” I will urge the President to play back the tape and listen to himself if he still has it. If the President has any difficulty in getting back the tape, he may seek help from ‘Adom FM’. They have been playing it on air quite frequently recently on their programme called “Whanna ne nie” (Whose voice is this?). Some of us have not forgotten how the then candidate Mills and his apparatchiks ridiculed President Kuffuor by telling fishermen that latter was completely clueless to help their industry because he came from a region (Ashanti) which is nowhere near the sea. The insalubrity of that statement is left to the judgement of good readers. That is the extent President Mills went to seduce Ghanaians. Readers would also remember that it took President Mills no time to increase the price of petrol after winning the elections. The same petrol price he made a big deal about in his campaign. At the time the president was campaigning to decrease the price of petrol, the price of crude oil on the international market was around $147.00. As I write this piece today, the current crude oil price on the international market is $76.77. Ironically, we have to pay nearly the same amount for petrol as during the time of President Kuffuor and yet, we mustn’t complain! Ten (10) months on, in a 4 year term, the President is insulting our intelligence by telling us that we (Ghanaians) “complain too much”. Whatever happened to “I care care you”? Yet the president charitably awarded himself 80% success rate after 100 days in office. Ironically, the president did not think it too early to award himself those marks but when we “complain” after 10 months; we are told; that is too early. Either the President takes us for dunces and damn simpletons or he is deliberately belittling the intelligence of the electorates. The complaints which have raffled the feathers of the President originated from within his own party and one wonders why he couldn’t chastised the complainant-in-chief, which happens to be no other person than former President Rawlings? What about similar complaints from the likes of Ekow Spio-Garbrah and Kofi Wayo among others? Why is he venting his spleen on the poor Ghanaian he promised to “care for”? Is this a case of “poor workman quarrelling with his tools?” Or has reality hit home with the President feeling completely overwhelmed by the enormity of his campaign promises? Back to the story I earlier recounted, one mistake a lot of guys tend to make when they meet a woman they love is to promise her things the former could only dream about. I remember how I use to promise to ‘swim across the ocean to rescue my fiancée’ when I was a teenager but will duck for cover leaving my lover to get wet as soon as I see the first drop of rain. It appears that is exactly what the President is doing to Ghanaians. Professor Mills wooed Ghanaians with lots of promises causing us to entrust our hearts and destiny in his care. For him to turn round in 10 months and accuse us of being unnecessarily grumpy is heart wrenching. I just hope the President hasn’t got drunk on power for him to forget so soon how he literally begged electorates for their votes.

Were Ghanaians really voiceless under the NPP?

The President is said to have also retorted that, “The people (Ghanaians) could not find their voice to amplify their sufferings during the 8 years rule of the NPP….” To me, if the President made the above statement, then I can say with all the force I can muster that the President lied and here is my proof! It is no secret that Ghana enjoyed the freest press freedom under the NPP rule. Journalists were not summarily arrested, sh*t-bombed or imprisoned as it were during President Mills’ vice presidency. Students were not gunned down when they demonstrated. CJA, a covert arm of the NDC, went on numerous demonstrations without a dog barking at them. During some sessions of “The Peoples Assembly”, some paid NDC operatives could get up and virtually insult then sitting President Kuffuor. Some of those paid NDC operatives later apologised to then president Kuffuor. The NDC made it a point of degrading the presidency of Ghana with not a finger raised against them. Why the President chose to be this “ecominic” with the truth when he knew that not too long ago people could not leave their homes to use the pit latrine after 6pm when their tummies have been upset by “yor ke gari” is a question only he could answer.

If Ghanaians were voiceless as the President would wants us to believe, would he have been able to go round the country campaigning and make those promises he is struggling to fulfil? The President should ask Kwesi Pratt and his CJA cabal if they were voiceless. The list goes on. These are facts and it is only the individual with no scruples who would challenge same. In truth, it is the 8 year rule of the NPP which gave voice to the voiceless Ghanaian. Ghanaians were encouraged to say what they wished to say without fear of any night time visit by the security apparatus. We were neither under curfew nor state of emergency so what did the President mean when he said we could not “find our voice to amplify” our “sufferings during the 8 years rule of the NPP”? There was so much freedom of speech so much so that, even some depraved personalities parading as journalists suddenly discovered their pens to handwrite untruths on A4 sheets to spread slanderous and libellous information about people they sought to destroy. That is how far freedom of speech went under the presidency of Kuffuor. Mr President, if truth be known, it is not Ghanaians who have found their voices; rather it is you who have shown your true colours. You promised to decrease the price of petrol if we vote for you; instead you have increased the price of petrol on 3 different occasions in the past 10 months and still expect us not to talk!! Like my friend Jasper who claimed the girl he spent so much money and time to woo was “too demanding” after few months together; after seducing us with promises all of which he is yet to fulfil, the President seems to suggest that we should be grateful to have him as our president and not “complain.”

Actually, it’s you who “Complain Too Much”, Mr President!

It appears that the President does not want us to say “enko yie” and yet he wants us to listen to him when he complains. In my view, Mr President, I think you rather complain too much! Not long ago, you reminded us about you being the “only president” in Ghana. We knew that any way because we voted for one president. You’ve complained about our “ecominy” being in shambles. You complained about NPP and Sahara. You complained about TOR. The other time you complained about not being able to use The Golden Jubilee House. You’ve also complained about the School feeding programme, NYEP and many more. Now you are complaining about Ghanaians complaining “too much”!!! Mr President, Ghanaians did not beg you neither did we forcibly install you as our president! In fact you wanted the presidency so desperately that on your third attempt, you travelled to Nigeria to seek spiritual help from TB Joshua. Considering the fulfilled prophecies this man is alleged to have given, I wonder why he couldn’t warn you about the irritating complaints associated with the Ghanaian presidency. Have you so soon forgotten that before you became president, you were spearheading CJA demonstration? Are demonstrations not a platform for complaining against authority? So you are saying to Ghanaians that you were right during your candidature and presidency to complain but we should keep quiet and take whatever you dish out to us? Considering how raffled you are by our little murmurings you call “complaints”, methinks it would have be terribly disastrous for you should Ghanaians hit the streets today to dish out the full repertoire of “rebellion” and “uprising” tutorials given us by your own AFRC/PNDC/NDC. My word of advice to the President is that, you need the thick skin of the elephant and not the light umbrella type to withstand the rigours of your office.

You Talked the Talk, now walk the walk

In any case, you talked the talk during the campaign period and now is the time to walk your talk. You now have an idea of how Kuffuor might have felt when you were seen leading demonstrations against him. Though neither Kuffuor nor Akuffo have hit the street to lead demonstrations, yet you seem already suffocated by our “complaints”. It is too early to accuse us of “complaining too much”. Your Excellency, we were only clearing our throats when you accused us of complaining “too much”. We haven’t complained yet! If you can’t stand the heat, please do not go to the kitchen. The Akans say, “Se woko baabi na se ti kese rewe adwe a, wo se eye mere.” I rest my case.

Kofi Kyei-Mensah-Osei